After a meeting of the five state leaders on Monday, minister-president of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, called the sanctions ineffective.
“And the likelihood of them taking effect is diminishing from day to day,” he added.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's minister-president Manuela Schwesig (SPD) also stressed that “we are very clearly in favour of reducing mutual sanctions”.
The EU member states responded to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 with economic sanctions. They were last extended until the summer. In response, Russia imposed a ban on food imports from the EU.
Haseloff, a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) described the annexation as a breach of international law.
“But we must also consider that the impact on businesses is particularly pronounced in the eastern German federal states, while it plays a marginal, or at least subordinate role in the western German federal states,” he added.
He argued that a new “methodological approach” was needed to bring peace to the conflict.
The five states of former East Germany are Saxony, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.